The benefits and value of open data
Open data in Europe
Most national governments in Europe have developed an open data agenda and have established open data portals supported by solid open data policies and strategies. In 2019, an overall maturity of 74% was achieved by the EU28 in terms of policy maturity (visible on the ODM dashboard), indicating that Member States have developed a strong foundation in terms of their open data policy framework. The increased amount of national data portals is reflected in the evolution of datasets available on the European Data Portal (EDP). For example, in May 2016 the EDP only had over 400,000 available datasets, which grew to over 890,000 in August 2019 and is expected to grow further.
Benefits of open data
The publication of data is driven by the belief that it brings enormous benefits to citizens, businesses, and public administrations, while at the same time enabling stronger co-operation across Europe. Open data can bring benefits in various fields, such as health, food security, education, climate, intelligent transport systems, and smart cities - and is considered "an essential resource for economic growth, job creation and societal progress".
Open data publication and re-use brings a variety of benefits, including:
- Increasing the quality, efficiency, and transparency of public services;
- Cost saving, as it is for example forecasted that national governments of the EU28+ could save 1,7 billion euro by 2020; and
- Greater efficiency in processes and delivery of public services. This can be illustrated by an example from the Netherlands, where the Ministry of Education publishes education-related data for re-use. Since then, the number of questions they receive has dropped, reducing workload and costs. The remaining questions are now also easier for civil servants to answer because it is clear where the relevant data can be found.
Open data does not only increase the performance and transparency of public sector organisations, it is also seen as a driver for economic growth. Open data can contribute to the development of innovative services and the creation of new business models. Moreover, it can help organisations make more informed decisions and better use of existing resources. Businesses re-use open data to gather meaningful insights, to develop applications, or to enhance existing products or services.
Several economic benefits of the re-use of open data can be identified - both direct and indirect benefits. Direct benefits are monetised benefits that are realised in market transactions in the form of revenues and gross value added, the number of jobs involved in producing a service or product and cost savings. Indirect economic benefits are, for example, new goods and services, time savings for users of applications using open data, knowledge economy growth, increased efficiency in public services, and growth of related markets.
It is estimated that by 2020, the market size for open data has increased by 36.9%, to a value of 75.7 billion EUR. When looking at the impact of open data in a specific sector, the public sector is expected to have the highest share in terms of direct market size with a value of 22.11 million EUR. The growth of the open data market size is also expected to trigger a higher demand for skilled open data workers. It is forecasted that open data has created 100,000 jobs by 2020.
Open data and society
From a social perspective, open data enhances participation, collaboration, and enables the inclusion of marginalised groups. It enables citizens to make better-informed decisions but more importantly, empowers citizens to contribute to policies that are better designed to their needs and to a more engaging relationship with their governments.
Open data enhances citizen participation in traditional policymaking. Due to the increased government transparency through open data, citizens can study the data underlying reports and form their own opinions. In addition, open data enables opportunities for collaboration between the public and the private sector. Such opportunities can, for instance, be initiated through hackathons where interested parties work on specific challenges based on open data. Furthermore, open data can help to facilitate the inclusion of certain marginalised groups in society. For instance, in several cities new applications and services have been developed to facilitate the movement of disabled people through the re-use of open data, including the location of car parks for disabled people or maps of accessible public transport stations.
As discussed, there are benefits to open data, including its impact on economic growth and society. The benefits of open data create substantial value to society as a whole and impact your daily life. Interested in learning more about the benefits and value of using open data? Explore the EDP's news archive, feature articles, and use cases! Aware of open data examples? Tell us your story and share them with us via mail, and follow us on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn to stay up to date!